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Analysing the plot in Sophiatown

by mickey.geldenhuys
The term “plot” refers to the set of connected events upon which the play is based. It involves a pattern of relationships between the events and characters in the play. Something happens beacuse of something else and so on.

It also includes several dramatic structures moving the action in the play forward. Here is a graph to help you understand the structural elements of the plot in Sophiatown.

The structural elements are listed and explained in the table below.

To help you understand each structural element of the plot, click here for definitions.

Exposition and inciting incident of conflict Jakes sets the scene, describing the situation and conflict that the characters in the play are facing, that is, the forced removal from their homes. The incident that triggers the conflict between the characters is the arrival of Ruth. We see the first reactions of the other characters towards her. In terms of the story and plot, Ruth’s arrival sets in motion the struggle that the characters face. This struggle will remove them from the home and lives they know.
Conflict begins
In the play, Sophiatown, two distinct types of conflict can be identified, namely:
1. Conflict between characters, for example between Mingus and Ruth, or Fahfee and Jakes, or Ruth and Jakes.
2. Conflict between the characters and a situation, for example, the characters in the play face conflict in terms of the forced removals. We can also say that, in this play, the conflict is between the residents of Sophiatown and the apartheid government.
Rising action contributing to conflict and leading to climax
What builds up to the conflict between the main characters is how they, for example Jakes, Mingus and Fahfee, react to Ruth. Ruth also reacts to them and to life in Sophiatown. The conflict between the characters and their situation also contributes to the rising action. There are glimpses of resistance to the coming eviction  through Fahfee. As the play proceeds and the time of the eviction draws closer, the tension rises.
Act 2, Scene 5 and 6. The first evictions in Sophiatown are shown. The bulldozers have arrived to demolish Toby Street. It is clear the bulldozers will soon come to Gerty Street.
Falling action/
final solution
The police and bulldozers are about to arrive to demolish the house in Gerty Street. The characters are powerless to stop their eviction. Plans to resist this have failed.
In the last scene, the characters (except for Ruth, Princess and Charlie) remember the day their home was destroyed and they tell about this day from their point of view. Jakes tells us what happened to Ruth, Princess and Charlie. The song at the end conveys a mood of sadness and mourning for what was lost.


Find more help in: X-kit Achieve Literature Study Guide: Sophiatown 

Sophiatown is also avialable in eBook format.

Grade 11